Arsenal loanee William Saliba reached out to Emile Smith Rowe with a lovely message on Instagram after the young midfielder helped the Gunners reach the fourth round of the FA Cup with another outstanding individual performance against Newcastle this weekend.
Smith Rowe has been at the heart of Arsenal’s resurgence in recent weeks but was named among Mikel Arteta’s substitutes and looked to have been sent off for a reckless challenge on Newcastle’s Sean Longstaff after replacing Reiss Nelson in the second half.
However, referee Chris Kavanagh rescinded the red card after consulting with his pitchside monitor and Smith Rowe went on to break the deadlock with a superb finish in the 109th minute of Saturday’s nervy clash at the Emirates.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang put the game out of sight with three minutes remaining of extra-time and Arteta will no doubt be eagerly awaiting the draw on Monday night when Arsenal will discover their fourth-round opponents.
Asked about Smith Rowe’s display at his post-match press conference, Arteta said: ‘He has a huge potential. He really wants it and he has the personality when he goes on the field to express himself and play the way he can play.
‘To do it in a consistent way is a different thing, the boys that you mentioned [Jadon Sancho and Phil Foden], they’ve done it.
‘It’s true that they are ahead in their development phase because they’ve played many more minutes and games in the last two season but he’s capable of doing that.
‘Whether he’s going to do it will depend on how he continues to develop, how he takes the chances that he has in front of him and then how much we can help him to achieve that.’
An ecstatic Smith Rowe told his Instagram followers there was ‘no better feeling’ shortly after the final whistle and the England Under-20 international was flooded with messages of support from delighted Arsenal fans.
Saliba – who completed a loan from Arsenal to Ligue 1 outfit Nice this winter – was among the thousands who responded to Smith Rowe’s post and told him he was ‘so proud’ of his success this season.
Granit Xhaka hailed Smith Rowe after Arsenal’s nervy win and explained how the youngster had become so ‘important’ to the team in recent weeks.
‘He’s a lovely guy, a very good guy who wants to improve, he listens to us experienced players a lot and he’s so important to us,’ the Switzerland midfielder told the club’s official website.
‘You can see how many balls he recovers, how many key balls he plays at the front and for the front guys as well he’s so important.
‘He has to keep going like this, to improve day-by-day.
‘But he has a good mentality and that’s very important as well.’
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